From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s series of melodramas on disaffected outsiders in modern-day Germany saw perfection in such films as “The Merchant of Four Seasons” (1972), “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972), “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (1974) and “Fox and His Friends” (1975), the latter film newly released on DVD and Blu-ray by Criterion. A lottery win leads not to financial and emotional freedom but to social captivity in this wildly cynical classic about love and exploitation. Casting himself against type, the director plays a suggestible working-class innocent who lets himself be taken advantage of by his bourgeois new boyfriend (Peter Chatel) and his circle of materialistic friends, leading to the kind of resonant misery that only Fassbinder could create. “Fox and His Friends” is unsparing social commentary, an amusingly pitiless and groundbreaking if controversial depiction of a gay community in 1970s West Germany. New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation and supervised by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
The surprise of the week (actually, this month) has to be “Train to Busan”
(2016 — South Korea), a Zombie horror-thriller — a kind of “World War Z” meets “Snowpiercer” — that follows a group of terrified passengers fighting their way through a countrywide zombie viral outbreak, trapped on a suspicion-filled, blood-drenched bullet train ride to the Safe Zone … which may or may not still be there. A businessman and his estranged daughter hop a train to Busan, unawares that a research plant — funded by the businessman’s financial firm — has unleashed a virus that is quickly turning South Korea into a land of zombies. When the infection spreads to the speeding train, a group of passengers — lead by the businessman and a blue-collar worker — must fight their way through the zombie hordes to the safety of the front cars of the train — all the while hoping that Busan has been safely cordoned off from the infected countryside. It’s a thrilling, entertaining take on the zombie genre, with fleshed out characters, social commentary, and terrific action sequences. Forget all you knew about slow-moving zombies — these flesh eaters, like the ones in “World War Z,” are pretty darn fast and hard to stop. Biggest grossing South Korean film of all time. Stars Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Choi Woo-sik and An So-hee. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from (Well Go USA). Check out the trailer:
Also from Criterion this week comes “Something Wild” (1961), a complex exploration of the physical and emotional effects of trauma, staring Carroll Baker — in a layered performance — as a college student who attempts suicide after a brutal sexual assault but is stopped by a mechanic played by Ralph Meeker — whose kindness, however, soon takes an unsettling turn. Startlingly modern in its frankness and psychological realism, the film represents one of the purest on-screen expressions of the sensibility of the intimate community of artists around New York’s Actors Studio, which transformed American cinema in the mid-20th century. With astonishing location and claustrophobic interior photography by Eugene Schüfftan, an opening-title sequence by the inimitable Saul Bass, and a rhythmic score by Aaron Copland, this film by Jack Garfein is a masterwork of independent cinema. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with a new, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Jack Garfein, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
From TV to DVD:
“I Love Lucy: Superstar Special #2” (1955) is a 45-minute disc that includes both colorized and original black-and-white versions of both “Lucy Visits Grauman’s” and “Lucy and John Wayne,” which are the first two episodes of the show’s 5th season. Here the episodes are stitched together to tell a continuous story. “Lucy Visits Grauman’s” finds Lucy and the Mertzes visiting Hollywood’s famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where they stumble upon a loose cement slab containing John Wayne’s footprints. Lucy decides to take the slab as a souvenir. In “Lucy and John Wayne,” Lucy scrambles to replace the stolen footprints and Ricky tries to help by calling John Wayne, but as usual, the seemingly simple task of replicating the footprints becomes a comedy of errors. From CBS/Paramount … “The Love Boat Season Three: Volumes One and Two” (1979-80) arrives as two four-disc sets ($19.96 each) with all 25 episodes (including three double-length episodes) of this guilty pleasure vessel. Join Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell), Gopher (Fred Grandy), Issac the Bartender (Ted Lange), Julie your Cruise Director (Lauren Tewes) and a shipload of guest stars, including Don Knotts, Frank Sinatra Jr., Ginger Rogers, Milton Berle, Alan Hale Jr., Sonny Bono, Charo, Don Adams, Donny Osmond, Loni Anderson and more. From CBS/Paramount … “Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Seventh & Final Season” (2016) is a four-disc set with all 13 episodes. Based on the best-selling crime thriller books by Tess Gerritsen, “Rizzoli & Isles” focuses on tough-as-nails Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), who has an uncompromisingly brash and beautiful bull-in-a-china-shop approach to both cases and life, and the brilliant medical examiner from a privileged background, Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), who may be the best-dressed science nerd in New England. Together, they are close friends and complete opposites who solve some of Boston’s most notorious crimes. From Warner.